Having just reached level 4, I want my battlemind PC that's just taken the feat Hero of the Faith (Divine Power 144)—picking the skill Streetwise—to retrain his level 2 battlemind utility power feather step to the level 2 skill power secrets of the city (Dragon #389 36). Player's Handbook 3 on Gaining and Using a Skill Power, in part, says

You can gain and use only the skill powers associated with your trained skills. Whenever you reach a level that grants you a utility power from your class, you can choose a skill power in place of a class power. The skill power you choose must be of the same level as or lower in level than the class power you would have gained.

You can use retraining… to replace a class power with a skill power and vice versa, as long as the new power is of the same level as or lower in level than the replaced power. (164)

However, the Rules Compendium on Swapping Powers, in part, says

You might be given the option of swapping a class power for a power that is not from your character’s class [e.g. a skill power?]. You cannot make the swap if doing so would eliminate your character’s last class power of a particular type: utility power, at-will attack power, encounter attack power, or daily attack power. For instance, if your wizard has only one wizard utility power, you cannot swap that power for a nonwizard power. (90 and emphases mine)

Now, even though the skill power isn't a battlemind power, I boldly assumed that the specific rules for skill powers overrode the general rules for swapping powers, so my battlemind was in the clear.

My confusion, though, comes from this thread that in 2017 has this question about this situation and received here the answer Yes, you can take the skill power at level 2 then received here the different answer No, you gotta wait until level 6. (To be extra murky, the Rules Compendium doesn't acknowledge the existence of skill powers.)

Was this ever resolved? Is it okay for a level 2 character to take a utility skill power? (Or, in this case, for my level 4 character to retrain into one?) Or must a character wait until level 6 when he gets his second utility power to take his first utility skill power so that the character has one utility power from his class and a second utility skill power?


2 Answers 2


You have to wait until level 6.

Your instincts are steering you wrong here - literally everything that lets you swap a power is going to be more specific than the general rule about swapping powers. The general rule should be assumed to apply unless a specific rule explicitly contradicts it - like if the skill power rules said "even your last class utility power" or something like that.

The final errata do not update the skill power rules to say this, so you should follow the guidelines in the Rules Compendium - you cannot do anything that would remove your last class utility power, even if it's also your first.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any D&D 4e legal difference between being "given the option" (like from a feat) and, instead, always having the option as one does for skill powers? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 10, 2020 at 0:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Not really, no, since there's no option you always have; everything is there because your GM approved of it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Jun 10, 2020 at 3:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any idea if the online character builder backed up this answer? \$\endgroup\$ Jun 10, 2020 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan It's been too long, sorry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Jun 10, 2020 at 14:14

Rules as Written, it probably depends on your class.

Take Cleric (Templar) as an example. Clerics come with two uses of Healing Word, which is a Cleric Utility power. This would seem to work according to the Rules Compendium entry: Healing Word is a Class Utility power, albeit one that cannot be retrained because it does not have a level. A Rogue (Scoundrel), on the other hand, does not have a built in utility power and would have to wait. By this definition, Battleminds should be able to retrain at level 2- Blurred Step, for example, is clearly a Utility Power according to the definition on page 90 of the Rules Compendium (the same page where the no-swapping your last utility power rules comes from).

Now, this may not be Rules as Intended, or at least, they didn't think through the implications when they wrote up the example. In fact, the example they give- the Wizard- can never actually lack Wizard Utility powers, as all Wizard variants get the Cantrip feature, and the powers from that are Wizard Utility powers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Because I had to read the page to find it (I know! Reading! Ugh! Amirite?), it may be useful to quote in the answer that definition: "If a power’s type isn’t stated, the power is an attack power if it includes an attack roll or if it deals damage. Otherwise, it is a utility power" (RC 90). That definition neatly opens up options for a lot of characters—but, as the answer says, still not all—to take skill powers when the game says they should be able to. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 10, 2020 at 18:54

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